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Citing ‘Heritage,’ Georgia To Begin Offering Confederacy License Plates

by Casey Michel on February 20, 2014

in Casey Michel,Discrimination,News

Post image for Citing ‘Heritage,’ Georgia To Begin Offering Confederacy License Plates

On the heels of a recent ruling forcing North Carolina to offer equal opportunity license plates, a new push out of Georgia shows that certain motorists aren’t satisfied with relegating their culture wars to ballot boxes and Tea Party marches.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, Georgia has begun issuing license plates sponsored by the Sons of the Confederacy. As if their sponsorship didn’t signify drivers’s political leanings, the design will splay the Confederate Flag as both background and issuing sticker.

Per the AJC:

The new Confederate flag plate replaces one that was already in circulation. The new design places the St. Andrew’s flag in the background across the entire tag. Like the old plate, it also features the flag in the square logo of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It adds the organization’s name across the bottom of the tag, where the name of the issuing county typically appears. …

[Ray] McBerry, [spokesman] of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was unfazed by the renewed controversy over the battle flag. “We believe that everyone has the right to preserve their heritage,” he said. “Southerners have as much right to be proud of their heritage as anybody else.”

Georgia, for what it’s worth, isn’t the first state to issue plates with the Stars and Bars prominently displayed – North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi already offer such options. Georgia’s plates will cost $80, a chunk of which will go toward the local chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Beyond the obvious and immediate division engendered by the plates – the AJC details the myriad complaints from civil rights leaders – the entire reasoning behind placing one’s heritage on a state-issued license plate smacks of logical fallacy.

Not only are these, again, state-issued material, but is this to mean that, say, the local chapter of Jamaican ex-pats could fund their own Jamaican plates? Or that the Japanese-American community can pay to have the Rising Sun plastered in the middle of their plates? Or that the local Saudi enclave can place their Arabic script next to their identifying numbers? These lineages still count as heritage, yes?

Of course, none of the Jamaican and Japanese and Saudi members have ever attempted to secede from the United States, or craft a separate nation based solely on white supremacy and the destruction of black families. None of these stand proudly behind the slave-laden division of this country. None can boast the “heritage” of the Sons of the Confederacy. Which is a shame, because if they did, well – then they could brag about it on the state-sanctioned rump of their big-rigs.

Casey Michel HeadshotCasey Michel is a graduate student at Columbia University, and former Peace Corps Kazakhstan volunteer. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, and Talking Points Memo, and he has contributed multiple long-form investigations to Minneapolis’s City Pages and the Houston Press. You can follow him on Twitter.

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{ 8 comments }

LittleMo2183 February 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm

<div id="idc-comment-msg-div-796720497" class="idc-message"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(796720497)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthenewcivilrightsmovement.com%2Fciting-heritage-georgia-to-begin-offering-confederacy-license-plates%2Fdiscrimination%2F2014%2F02%2F20%2F83393%23.UwY6p4W6SRJ#IDComment796720497&t=I%20just%20commented%20on%20Citing%20%E2%80%98Heritage%2C%E2%80%99%20Georgia%20To%20Begin%20Offering%20Confederacy%20License%20Plates%20%7C%20The%20New%20Civil%20Rights%20Movement&quot; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(796720497)">Close MessageI'm not sure this article isn't as much a display of intolerance as this proposed license plate appears to be to people who are from families who were once enslaved. Are we so certain that someone who flies the Stars and Bars REALLY only does it because they'd rather have an entire segment of the population enslaved once again? Or is this another over-generalisation of a (different) segment of the population, sort of along the lines of the (wrong) stereotype that all gay males MUST have lisps or dress in drag? Are we showing our own intolerance, here? Now, being Canadian, I don't know much about the Sons of the Confederacy – maybe they are as ugly a chapter as this article appears to make them out to be. Maybe they really DO want nothing more than to go back to the 1950s, where women stayed at home, and everyone was segregated. I hope not – I'd like to think there's not enough people to MAKE a chapter out of something like that. But if they aren't, then we're being as intolerant as we're accusing them of being, and I don't care for THAT one bit.

Alex_Parrish February 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm

@LittleMoe2183 — As a Foreign national you likely don't understand the context of the confederate battle-flag. Yes, it is a symbol of oppression to those whose families were enslaved and that enough should disqualify it from appearing on a state-sponsored product like a license-plate, but it is also a symbol of treason against the government of the United States. Traitors sought to destroy the US for economic gain and chose to make war on the US government over it. It is not just some charming remnant of a bygone era, but rather a talisman for those who would destroy our government and replace it with mob-rule. It is a repulsive and disgusting symbol to those whose forebears fought and died to retain our democracy yet there are many who use it as though it were some benign symbol of protest. It is not. The confederacy will NOT rise again — no matter how many times they say it and how fervently they believe it. In the US you are free to disagree with the government — even to hate it and to say traitorous things concerning it — but the State should not be playing a role in this by putting it on their license-plates.

sfbob February 20, 2014 at 7:03 pm

"Sons of Confederate Veterans?" Let's see. The Civil War ended in 1865. Let's say that the average veteran was 21 at the time. Some would be younger of course, and some would be older. Some would already have had children. To generalize just a little bit, most "sons of Confederate veterans" (What? No daughters?) would have been born from the 1850s to the 1880s and would be much, much too old to be driving a car.

Whatever else anyone may try to make the Civil War to have have been about, the secession statements of most of the Southern states make it clear that they were fighting for the right to own human beings as property.

dahlia78 February 20, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Actually, the Daughters of the Confederacy does indeed exist. Several women in my family are members, which means I am also eligible. I am not going to try to defend these groups. But, do I think they are full of evil racists? No.

chevelle1 February 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

<div id="idc-comment-msg-div-797364760" class="idc-message"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(797364760)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthenewcivilrightsmovement.com%2Fciting-heritage-georgia-to-begin-offering-confederacy-license-plates%2Fdiscrimination%2F2014%2F02%2F20%2F83393%23.UwjpGYUZxin#IDComment797364760&t=I%20just%20commented%20on%20Citing%20%E2%80%98Heritage%2C%E2%80%99%20Georgia%20To%20Begin%20Offering%20Confederacy%20License%20Plates%20%7C%20The%20New%20Civil%20Rights%20Movement&quot; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(797364760)">Close MessageIf it was 'all about slavery', then why didn't the North free all their slaves before starting a war with the CSA? And in april 1861, why were there more slave-holding states in the North (8) than in the South (7) ? Read about the Corwin Amendment. and read the US Congress' joint resolution of July 1861 that clearly stated that the War was about preserving the Union and not about slavery. No one can say the South was fighting to keep slavery with a straight face.

Merv9999 February 20, 2014 at 7:35 pm

The Confederate heritage is one of slavery and treason and nothing else of significance.

There were many many Southerners who fought on the side of the Union, including many in regiments marching under the flags of Southern states! That is a heritage that Southerners can be proud of, yet it's a history that is almost completely ignored.

chevelle1 February 22, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Sorry, Merv, you have been misinformed if you think the war had anything to do with slavery or treason. The US Supreme court in 1867 determined that no treason had been committed by any Southerner, since the CSA was a separate nation and was no longer bound by any laws of its previous confederation with the US.

“The flag that was the symbol of slavery on the high seas for a long time was not the Confederate battle flag; it was, sadly, the Stars and Stripes."

–Alan Keyes, Ph.D, Harvard
Author, former United Nations Amasador and Assistant Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan

MiddleGrounds February 23, 2014 at 4:01 am

– Not only are these, again, state-issued material, but is this to mean that, say, the local chapter of Jamaican ex-pats could fund their own Jamaican plates? Or that the Japanese-American community can pay to have the Rising Sun plastered in the middle of their plates? Or that the local Saudi enclave can place their Arabic script next to their identifying numbers? These lineages still count as heritage, yes? —

Actually, I think that would be awesome. I mean, if this Confederacy thing is allowed, why not? What about mixed mutts like me (Irish, Native American, Dutch, etc…)? Do we get one too? I think it would be awesome to have a license plate that shows a native american drinking irish beer in a rain coat.

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